R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball will have a personal catcher

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J.P. Arencibia is Toronto’s starting catcher, but it sounds like he won’t be behind the plate when R.A. Dickey pitches because the Blue Jays want to give the knuckleballer a personal catcher.

Last season Josh Thole caught 27 of Dickey’s starts for the Mets and he’s the leading candidate to fill the personal catcher role this year after coming along with Dickey in the blockbuster trade, but Henry Blanco is also an option if the Blue Jays prefer him in the backup role.

Manager John Gibbons explained the logic behind using a personal catcher by telling Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com: “They have to get the [side sessions] in, they have to spend a lot of time working with Dickey, because it’s an unusual and unique pitch. It takes a lot of work.”

And of course no catcher starts 162 games anyway, so having a scheduled day off for Arencibia once every five games could be a positive thing. Arencibia started 91 games last season and 118 games in 2011.

Cubs sign Drew Smyly to a two-year, $10 million contract

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday evening that the club signed pitcher Drew Smyly to a two-year contract. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the contract is for $10 million total and allows Smyly to earn another $7 million with performance bonuses. Smyly was non-tendered by the Mariners at the beginning of the month and became a free agent.

Smyly, 28, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in late June. He’s expected to miss, at minimum, the first half of the 2018 season. The Cubs are hoping he can contribute to a playoff push in the latter half of the season as well as in 2019.

Smyly didn’t pitch at all in 2017. When he was healthy the season prior, he made 30 starts for the Rays and put up a 4.88 ERA and a 167/49 K/BB ratio in 175 1/3 innings.